A Passion for Fashion

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Fashion-tech expert Katlean DeMonchy returns to Fashion Week


  • Katlean DeMonchy. Photo: Patrick McMullan

  • Katlean DeMonchy, left, with colleagues.

“The fashion industry alone is a 1.2 trillion global industry and they haven’t really changed at all. So it’s really ready for disruption,” said Katlean DeMonchy.

As a fashion journalist in her early career, she attended every fashion show in New York, Milan and Paris, but wasn’t feeling challenged enough in her work. “It got to the point where I could almost predict what the designers were going to say to me,” she said.

Around that same time, she started to realize how important it was for the fashion and technology industries to be more interconnected. “Fashion companies were needing to adapt to digital ways and technology companies were needing to go beyond thinking that pink was what represented females,” DeMonchy, who is a frequent guest fashion expert on talk shows, explained.

So, in September 2014 she launched StyleX, which will celebrate its second year at Fashion Week on Sept. 11. The StyleX Experience “showcases innovative and emerging designers, makers, brands and sponsors with a full schedule of events, leadership panels and demo experience lounges.”

Did you always know you wanted to go into the fashion industry?

I always had a passion for fashion; there’s no doubt about that. My dad was a diplomat, so I lived all over the world. When I was little, I would look at magazines and interpret clothes and design and make my own clothes. I’m both right and left brain, so at one point, thought I was actually going to design clothes. Then I realized I liked people, putting people together. So that’s how that evolved.

What is your background in the fashion and tech industry?

I’ve been reporting on brands for the last 15 to 20 years. I started off as a reporter at Reuters and covered everything in fashion, every fashion show in Paris, Milan, London and New York.... I wasn’t as challenged. So I started seeing that technology was really interesting and had gone to CES and there weren’t a lot of women in the process. Martha Stewart was there the same year I was. I was told that some of the companies weren’t really targeting women, which was kind of shocking since we have so much buying power. But that changed really quickly and I’ve been at CES now every single year and have to say that the equation now is very different and there are lots of women in all areas.

How can you explain Style X’s concept and mission?

It’s a pioneering platform that provides a way for people to discover game changing technologies. Some of them will have huge impacts and some will be transition technology. But some will have major breakthroughs in the fashion, beauty and wellness area.

What is the atmosphere at Fashion Week?

Fashion Week right now is a bit of a circus because there isn’t a central point. But at the same time, it’s really interesting because there are so many different people expressing themselves. The biggest challenge for the press is where to go and access because the venues have become smaller than the interest. And also the fact that people are still physically moving from space to space. We can also work on becoming more digital in our presence as well. I envision a time where people will be able to join us. And we can do that now through Facebook Live and other interactive ways where we can go beyond the breadth of who’s there. And that’s why we’re seeing people like Tommy Hilfiger take Fashion Week out of New York and into other places. So it is a challenge for the city right now to find a place. And I guess with Hudson Yards, we will find a central place.

Give us a glimpse into your Fashion Week events. Who are some of the speakers on the panel?

We work with people like Francis Bitonti, a world-renowned 3-D printing artist. He created the first 3-D-printed dress that Dita Von Teese wore. He’s the actual guy who made the dress and there’s another guy who designed it. It’s really very innovative. We’re seeing 3-D used in a way that someone like Tory Burch can create a button in America and get it tested and see the form of it and have it duplicated in Asia without any errors. That’s the simplest form of how 3-D can help. But we’re also seeing it be used for limbs- new arms, new legs, ways of integrating design in very necessary and practical ways as well.

You are also offering a beauty and wellness lounge there. What is that?

The idea came from the fact that when I was running around, I always wanted to feel refreshed. So we wanted to pamper the fashionistas between shows. That’s where it started. And of course, wellness is now the new luxury. Everyone is almost more interested in how to live a longer and better life. That can become a show of its own. There is just so much now happening in that category. So we anticipate a lot of growth in the wellness sector.

Who are some celebrities you’ve worked with?

We’ve had quite a few “Housewives.” Ramona Singer, Aviva Drescher, Camille Grammer. Andi Dorfman from “The Bachelorette.” We’re very flattered that celebrities come to the event, but we’re not just focused on the celebrities per se. We’re more focused on the tech. They tend to be affluent early enough, so we sort of think of them as people with influence who like to see new things and have access to them sometimes more than others. So we’re delighted to have them. And being in New York, a lot of celebrities come to the city at that time.

You’ve been a guest on talk shows as a fashion expert. Any memorable moments on television?

Yes, the first time I ever went on TV, a very famous person whose name I won’t say, asked me, “What are you doing here?” And then the lights went on. The person was very famous and made me feel so little at that moment. And I smiled and am like, “Of course I’m supposed to here.” And then I noticed, from that moment on, that I developed some very resourceful tools that, no matter what, I could be in the moment and go on TV. That was really interesting out of the gate that that happened. Never happened again. TV is an interesting process because you have a short amount of time to get across whatever you’re there to say. And sometimes there are collaborative hosts, and sometimes there’s not, so it’s really up to you to have fun and be very focused on what it is you’re there to accomplish. Otherwise, you go on TV and are like, “The time went by and I wasn’t able to say anything.”


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